Serb Opposition Delay Debate on Reforms

Dismayed by the parliamentary speaker’s decision to prolong Monday’s session, opposition lawmakers spent four hours citing breaches in the parliamentary code instead of debating laws.

The session ended at 0200 in the morning on Tuesday, with little ground being covered in the debates needed for a set of important judiciary reform laws to be adopted.

The opposition’s Serbian Radical Party and Democratic Party of Serbia refused to use the extended hours of the parliamentary session to continue debating laws, however, accusing the ruling coalition of violating parliamentary procedures.

This obstruction has been a regular occurrence since the formation of the new government this summer.

Adding to the frustration is the fact that Belgrade is in a great rush to adopt its 2009 budget draft, which the government approved on Saturday. However, before the budget reaches the parliamentary agenda, the session for discussing the judicial laws must be completed.

In addition, another issue, the no confidence vote in the government initiated by the opposition, must also precede the budget debate, though speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic has stated that both can be scheduled for the same session.

The opposition insists on going forward with the no confidence motion, even though it is clear that it does not have the needed parliamentary majority for the vote to succeed.

The opposition’s nationalist bloc of parties, the Radicals and former prime minister Vojislav Kostunica’s Democrats, continues to claim that the debate is needed in order to open the eyes of the public to the government’s faults, namely its approval of the European Union law-and-order mission’s deployment to Kosovo, which the opposition claims equates to recognising Kosovo’s unilateral independence.

The stagnation in the adoption of laws also has a negative effect on Serbia’s further European integration, since most of the reform laws are crucial to Serbia’s progress in becoming a candidate for European Union membership and in efforts to liberalise the visa regime which makes it a great hassle for Serbian citizens to travel through EU member states.

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